“Wh-what note?” I looked for one. I didn’t see it.
Cormac dangled a white piece of paper in front of my nose. “Care to tell us what it means? Or who wrote it?”
I grabbed it. Read it quickly. I am sorry about last night. Please accept my apologies. As for the computer, time to bury the old dinosaur. Use the new one wisely—and don’t go getting into any more trouble. I’ll be watching you.
“I-I-I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. I had a minor…exchange with someone. Who saw fit to apologize. Not exactly a high crime.” My cheeks burned when I remembered his lips on mine.
“Is it? Then why is it you spent the evening alone last night? We’ve checked the cameras. You were alone all night.”
No, I wasn’t. Not all night. But how had he masked his presence?
And…why were they so concerned with who I was with?
“M-m-maybe, I was speaking with someone online?”
“We checked that, too,” Cormac said.
“What about a phone call?” Coty asked, sarcastically. “You got her bugged?”
I looked at the two males and knew that was exactly what they had done.
“You’ve been spying on me this en-en-entire time?”
Why? Why did I matter to them so much?
“What is going on that you think I’m involved in? Th-Theo? Tell me.”
My cousin looked at me, his eyes cloudy. Theo’s eye-sight weakened more each year. Eventually he would become completely blind.
“Olietus Black was killed last night. Inside the city limits.”
I gasped. “I thought he was in Texas.”
“He was supposed to be. But he came back. At the exact wrong time, apparently,” Cormac said.
“I know he w-w-was after me, but what does his death have to do with me?”
“The Dardaptoan symbol for the law of vengeance was burned into his chest, Jume. And he was draped with a yellow Woald hasha,” Theo said. “Do you know who did this?”
Only very particular members of each House had the right to evoke that kind of…law.
The equan of each House could use it against any of his House he felt had transgressed in an unforgiveable manner, at his own discretion. And his top two enforcers could act on his orders. But only with strong justification.
And only with permission from the high council could one from another House, even an equa or equan, invoke it against anyone from another House.
This type of punishment was the…highest punishment possible.
It condemned a Rajni to a lifetime alone. That was never taken lightly.
I shook my head. “No one of the Woald House would do that in my name, Theo. My equa, I am not even certain he is aware of what has happened to me. Anyone else who would care…would not be allowed to use that mark. I do not know who would do this.”
“Who gave you the computer, Jume?”
“Why does that have anything to do with what happened to Olietus? It was just a…male…that I know. He-he-he snuck in here last night so we could…talk. That is all. And he kissed me. That’s all. Nothing nefarious.”
A lie. I was standing there lying to Theo and Cormac Jareth.
To protect the one male who could have killed Olietus Black with impunity.
It had been Nalik Black. I am sure of it.
“If you are lying to us, there will be consequences,” Cormac said.
“Would you believe me, even if I wasn’t? I know that you do not trust me. Even though I worked for you faithfully for five decades, cousin. Tell me this—why? Why is all of this happening to me? Can you see that? If not…then please leave. Coty and I were on our way to lunch now.”
Theo wrapped his hand around my arm. “Do not ever forget…you are in this hotel for a reason. Someone paid Olietus to kill you. We have yet to find out who. Don’t ignore the threat.”
“I just want this to end, Theo. I just want to go back to my home. Is that too much to ask?”
My cousin surprised me when he pulled me closer and hugged me gently. “I know. And I know how hard this has been for you. But Jume, you must know by now…you are never going home again.”